Pumpkin Fun

Pumpkin Fun

Pumpkins oval, pumpkins round;

Pumpkins tumbling on the ground;

Pumpkins giant, pumpkins small,

Pumpkins lined against the wall;

–Virginia Kroll

Pumpkin books, pumpkin recipes, and pumpkin activities. The last two weeks of school have been centered around learning about one of fall’s favorite, brightly colored fruits as we said goodbye to October and hello to November!

I kicked off our Pumpkin Unit with an introduction and challenge to memorize Virginia Kroll’s “Pumpkins” poem. The poem is full of descriptive words and rhyming couplets.

On the first day, we read the complete poem (see link below.) We created hand and body motions to accompany the rise and fall pattern of the words as we read them. I found some great (and free) reading comprehension activities that went along with the poem and picked the activities that I thought would best be appropriate for the girls to complete.

Each day we worked on the poem, adding two lines at a time. We recited it at lunch, we recited it at dinner, we recited it over Skype, in the car, when we walked, at dance, just about everywhere we went. Even my two year old was reciting the opening line. By the end of the two weeks, the girls and I were able to recite the whole poem from memory.  It was an accomplishment for all of us.

PUMPKIN BOOKS:

When I was teaching in the public school system, I bought a lot of my own books. Consequently, I now have a great homeschool library.  Some fall and pumpkin books get pulled out every October. Here are a few favorites:

Pick a Circle, Gather Squares- A Fall Harvest of Shapes by Felcia Sanzari Chernesky

Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie by Jill Esbaum

From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer

The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis

Too Many Pumpkins

Too Many Pumpkins is one of my favorite, favorite pumpkin books. It is about a white-haired-lady named Rebecca Estelle and her cat Esmeralda. Rebecca has an unexpected encounter with a splattered pumpkin that causes a bit of a situation. A shift in perspective allows her to notice the goodness of her position and she is able to bless those around her. (Sounds a little like A Fierce Flourishing)

With this story, we worked on characterization, cause and effect, and sequencing events. You can get the same materials I used online at The Mailbox Education Center.

PumpkinsToo Many PumpkinsToo Many Pumpkins

FIELD TRIPS:

Our first pumpkin unit field trip included a trip to Rhode Island to visit my family and the Roger Williams Zoo’s Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular. The Spectacular was founded in 1988 by a former mail carrier who has put a team of professional pumpkin carvers together, called Passion for Pumpkins. The carvers spend 6 – 8 weeks creating 5,000 pumpkins to be displayed on the Zoo’s Wetlands Trail amid special lighting and themed music. 1 Some of the pumpkins were amazing (see below, Mother Goose and the Sound of Music.) The creativity is worth seeing. A word of warning though, the path is very dark, there are a lot of people, and some of  the displays are scary. If you have children (or adults, for that matter) who are sensitive to noise and crowds, this might not be the best place to take them. We quickly pushed through the crowds to avoid seeing the more spookier displays.

Mother Goose Pumpkin Sound of Music

The second trip we took was to the pumpkin “patch” (aka Garden Center.) We walked around trying to find all the pumpkins described in the pumpkin poem. After much deliberation, the girls each found the perfect pumpkin to take home to carve.

At home Dad took over as the art teacher. He helped the girls scoop out the seeds, pick a design, and show them how to carve their pumpkins. The pumpkin carving took a long time to complete but the final products- Mater, Puppy, Panda- came out fantastic.

Pumpkin carving Pumpkin Carving Pumpkins

PUMPKIN MATH:

After the carving, it was time to wash, count, and roast the pumpkin seeds. I read How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara. It is a great book to explore estimation and skip counting.

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin

The girls estimated how many seeds they had and decided the best way to count their seeds were by skip counting by 10s. They got busy creating groups of 10s. I cut out circles, pumpkins, and square mats to help keep the groups separated. When all the counting was said and done, our pumpkins contained- 400, 562, and 466 seeds.

pumkin seed counting

Counting Pumpkin SeedsCounting Pumpkin Seeds

PUMPKIN RECIPE:

We like simple recipes. One day, we made Pumpkin Patch Dirt Cups. They were super easy to make and delicious. My kids got a kick out of how real the “dirt” looked. This idea and recipe came from Paintbrushes and Popsicles.

Pumpkin Dirt Cup Pumpkin Dirt Cup Pumpkin Dirt Cup

THE GREATEST PUMPKIN LESSON OF ALL

Finally, the best pumpkin lesson came from my husband’s sermon two weeks ago. During the service, he carved a pumpkin as he describe how we are the pumpkin and God is a brain surgeon, a heart surgeon, and an internist.  He explained that God needs to do brain surgery on us, scoop out the “junk.”  Our junk is then placed on the cross and we are forgiven through Christ’s sacrifice. Next, God performs heart surgery on us. He takes out our dark, broken heart and replaces it with one of love and light. He gives us the Holy Spirit so that we can shine our light bright in a hurting world. The kids were kept in the service and I think that everyone was engaged. It was a great visual with a great message!

 Pumpkin Guts Pumpkin


Tot-Time Tuesday- Scavenger Hunts

fall scavenger hunt

Last week, we took advantage of the great fall weather and made an effort to get outside every day. One day, we went on a nature walk and brought a scavenger hunt along with us.  Scavenger hunts are fun, inexpensive, and easily modified for all ages. They are an excellent activity in the practice of observing and the skill of noticing goodness.  There are many great scavenger hunts already created and easy to find online. I printed this one from “The Bird Feed NYC” and placed it on clipboards- one for each child.  I liked that this hunt uses both words and pictures of items that are easily found in our backyard.

Fall Scavenger Hunt

As soon as we were out the door, my girls excitedly began to find and check items off their chart. My son bounced along, happy to be outside. He was glad to have his own clipboard and his own marker. Never underestimate your youngest children and include them in as many activities as possible.  With a little assistance and some modeling, my son quickly got the idea of looking for an item and crossing it off the chart. Using the marker was a big incentive too. Due to some past unfortunate incidents, say a mural on a white window sill, we have kept the markers out of his reach and out of his artistic fingers. He was thrilled to have it back in his hand.

Fall Scavenger HuntScavenger HuntFall Scavenger Hunt

We searched and explored for about 20 minutes. It was just enough time to keep everyone’s attention and interest.  We ended up finding 19 out of the 20 items. No matter where we looked, we could not find any animal tracks.  It really did not matter if we found one or all the items, it was so nice being outside with the kids and spending time together.

   “I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”

 [Notebook, Oct. 10, 1842]”
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The American Notebooks

Fall Scavenger Hunt Fall Scavenger Hunt

Fall Leaf

Check out The Bird Feed NYC’s website and other scavenger hunts here.


Tot-Time Tuesday-Autumn Mixed Collage

Tot-Time Tuesday- Autumn Mixed Collage

The first day of autumn was last week but the warm weather continues to linger in parts of New England. I am ready for autumn to make its full, glorious appearance and stay for good. Rainbow leaves, over-sized, comfy-sweaters, UGGs, fresh apples, and bright-orange pumpkins are some of my favorite things and I cannot wait to be reunited with them.

Last Wednesday, to get us in the right mood for fall, I read It’s Harvest Time by Amy Beveridge. It is a short, early reader that highlights all of God’s blessings in the season of autumn. I love these little, inexpensive Happy Day books (Tyndale House Publishers.) They incorporate faith, family, and values in interesting stories with brightly colored pictures.

It's Harvest Time

 After the book, I modified an idea I found in our Boz’s MOPPETS curriculum. I provided my son with a red paper plate and a variety of fall colored materials. The materials included pieces of orange curling ribbon, yarn, pipe cleaners, twine, sparkly leaves, and pumpkins (that I had purchased on clearance at the end of last season.)

fall collage

I put some Mod-Podge in a cup, gave my son a paint brush and demonstrated how to paint with the glue, then stick the item to the plate. I think that he enjoyed painting with the glue more than placing the items. When my girls were his age, they would have enjoyed placing the items (A LOT of items) on the plate over the gluing part. The differences in my children amaze me and makes me smile!

 Fall Collage

Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture of the final product. BUT we will be doing this project again with real items we find outside. I am hoping for brilliant red maple leaves, yellow birch leaves, artistic designs of sassafras leaves, and brown acorns. We just need fall weather to come and stick around. It shouldn’t be too long now. Mark Twain was very correct when he said, “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait five minutes.”